“Love, Lies and Spies” by Cindy Anstey
Swoon Reads, 368 pages, $10.99, 2016, Goodreads
When I requested the ARC (advanced review copy) from Swoon Reads for this novel, I thought, ‘This book seems to have an original story, but I wonder if the plot, characters, and setting are going to do it justice.” Boy, did it!
I cannot give higher praise for Anstey and her debut novel! Having gotten my degree in English Literature I have read my fair share of Austen, and thoroughly enjoyed it. In “Spies,” Anstey channels Austen with the grace and skill of a true clairvoyant.
All Juliana Telford wants to do during the London season is to work on getting her and her father’s joint research on the lady beetle (otherwise known as the ladybug) published. However, when she meets Spencer Northam while dangling off the edge of a cliff she gets more than she bargains for and so does he. Spencer is on orders from the War Office to find a traitor to the English crown, and Juliana may or may not be aloofly consorting with the enemy.
The delicate language Anstey uses in her dialogue between characters really transports readers back to the Victorian era, and the details of the finery and parties makes the setting even more convincing. Another thing Anstey does well is setting the pace for the budding romance between her two main characters. It’s not too quick, but quick enough that the reader isn’t left bored. It’s believable, amusing at points, and absolutely endearing.
All the actions of the plot leads to a perfectly climactic ending and believable conclusion. I actually found myself wanting to know more about the lives of the characters once the book closed in my lap. I found myself delightfully laughing at points and scowling at the perfectly detestable villain. The novel will definitely move readers young and older.
I recommend this book for young women who seem to be interested in period pieces. The historical backdrop to this novel is that of Britain’s Regency period and the Napoleonic Wars because of this it will interest young readers to do a bit of research of the time period, and thus learning history while reading! What is more perfect?
I can’t wait for the next work from Anstey to come as she has now made her way onto my bookshelf as an author to watch. Find her on Twitter at @CindyAnstey.